A new report by Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation has found that more than a quarter of a million children are born in highly polluted areas, all with pollution levels that exceed the World Health Organisations recommendations set out in 2005.
Nearly a third of all hospitals in England are in areas which exceed the recommended pollution levels, including Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Birmingham City Hospital where air pollution levels are the highest outside of London.
Birmingham has the highest birth rates in the UK with a vastly growing population of over 2.6 million, making it the second largest city in the UK.
Research has produced evidence which suggest there is a strong correlation between air pollution and organ damage, particularly in children who are more vulnerable to developing asthma due to their faster breathing rate.
According to the NHS 1 in 11 children are living with asthma in the UK, also making up nearly a third of all paediatric hospital admissions.
"It is a national shame that a quarter of a million babies are born breathing toxic air every year"
Sarah Woolnough- Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation
Currently, it costs the NHS around £1bn to care for asthma sufferers, providing treatments such as prevention Inhalers and relieve inhalers.
It is estimated that there are 36,000 premature deaths a year caused by toxic air.
The charity is asking for the UK Government to address air pollution sooner rather than later and put it at the forefront of the fight against climate change.
The new research comes ahead of next week’s UN Climate Change conference which will be held in Glasgow.
Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, Sarah Woolnough, said: ‘It is a national shame that a quarter of a million babies are born breathing toxic air every year. How can it be acceptable that the first breath a baby takes could be so dirty it could seriously affect their long-term health? Every child deserves the best start in life and our government needs to act now to cut air pollution levels and do their duty to protect future generations from this invisible threat’.
‘The UK Government must blaze a trail, not just at COP26 but beyond, to bring in bold new clean air laws and set ambitious targets to clean up the air by 2030. If people are encouraged to swap their car for cleaner modes of transport and Government invests in more cycle routes, more frequent bus routes and if local councils expand clean air zones, there is hope that we can tackle air pollution, and all enjoy cleaner air’.